Buttermilk is a fermented dairy product that adds tanginess, moisture and tenderness to baked goods.
However, if you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can make a simple substitute using whole milk and vinegar.
Here’s why this works and how to do it:
Whole milk is a fresh dairy product that contains fat, protein, lactose and water.
Vinegar is a sour liquid that contains acetic acid and water.
When you combine whole milk and vinegar, the acetic acid in the vinegar reacts with the protein in the milk, causing it to curdle and separate into solid curds and liquid whey.
This process is similar to how cheese is made from milk.
The curdled milk has a thicker and creamier texture than regular milk, and a slightly acidic flavor that mimics buttermilk. The acidity also helps activate baking soda and baking powder, which are common leavening agents in baked goods.
This creates bubbles of carbon dioxide that make the batter rise and become light and fluffy.
Here’s how to create this mixture:
- 1 scant cup (220 mL) of milk
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of vinegar (you can use various kinds of vinegar, such as apple cider or distilled white vinegar, but the latter has a more neutral flavor)
- A liquid measuring cup
- A measuring spoon
- Add 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of vinegar to the liquid measuring cup.
- Fill the measuring cup with milk up to the 1-cup line (240 mL)
- Stir the mixture and let it sit for about 10 minutes, or until it looks curdled and thickened.
- You can use this mixture as a 1:1 replacement for buttermilk in any recipe that calls for it.
You can use any kind of milk, but if your recipe calls for a certain type of buttermilk — such as low fat — it may be best to use a similar type of milk to make a substitute.
If you measure the milk separately, you’ll need a scant — or not quite full — cup (around 220 mL).
Some examples of recipes that this substitute will work for are pancakes, biscuits, muffins, cakes and fried chicken.
You can also use the buttermilk substitute to make sauces, dressings and marinades as well.